Friday, June 10, 2022

Steffi Tad-y, From the Shoreline



Before you could talk, you swam,
took up residence
in water

To decipher if there is life out there
the first thing
astronauts look for is water

It seems in order
to live a river of stars
we trade for a roadhouse of startles

What is it
The hush that hardens you and me
over time

Hear water gushing
over a grandfather’s
scraped knee

Hear water like hunger
lacing its shoes, rallying
on a bright spit-laden street

The full-length debut from Vancouver-based poet Steffi Tad-y, following chapbooks from Rahila’s Ghost Press and Frog Hollow Press, is From the Shoreline (Guelph ON: Gordon Hill Press, 2022), a collection of sketched-lyrics of gestures, pause, halts and clipped phrases. “What else can I tell you?” she offers, to close the two-page “Gising,” a poem set as the second in the collection. “Let us go. // There is side-street parking. / The ticket machine // looks like a pair of binoculars / across an orchid mural. // Keys & raincoat are on the table. / I have been late all this time.” Set in two numbered sections of short poems, there is both an immediacy and meditative quality to her observational lyrics on interiority, writing poems that speak carefully, occasionally pausing to hold breath. She writes of speculations, and shortness of breath, connecting wide swaths of thoughts with deceptive ease. “I placed years of words inside a word cloud / as an attempt to sift through / a record of thoughts racing / I prefer as rain on my rubber boots,” she offers, to open the poem “Writer’s Archive,” a poem subtitled “After Joanne Arnott,” “small & wet I can shake off by the door / beside a mop & a red bucket.” The poems are open, working an assemblage of efficient narrative lyrics on rhythm, repetition and orientation, seeking to understand where she is, where she stands and how it is she has arrived, citing language and emigration, and all points between. “I do not know what it is like,” she offers, to open the poem “Elegy from a Wave,” “to lose a beloved to the sea. // Their body found / by watchful eyes // of a fisherman’s tugboat. / The raft it tows // so close to one’s leaving.”

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